That’s what one of my long-ago journalism professor called the tendency of some news writers to open their notebooks and empty them into their stories.
Two things keep you from doing that at a daily paper; deadline and size.
If you have a really rousing story, you get some where between 16 and 20 column inches tops. That goes pretty quickly, and you end up trimming quite a bit of what happened.
Deadline is the other killer, especially when you need to start trimming. Frankly, I think it’s always worked to my favor.
Way back when, I used to cover meetings along side a decent reporter from a long-standing weekly paper. I’d rush back after the meeting and push out two or three ten-inch stores for the next morning’s paper. I’d pick up his paper a few days later and read his story. Literally everything was there, every gibber, sob and raised voice, covered in a well written, 96-inch monster. I could never finish them.
Stories posted to the Internet have different requirements. You’ve got unlimited space, at first blush. Of course, nine out of ten readers will never finish reading a 20-inch story, never mind a 96-incher.You still have to edit reality to fit the screen.
And deadlines are even more harsh. Draft one needs to get up seconds, minutes after whatever event has wrapped.
No matter what, so many great things get skipped. Monday night, for example, I had City Councilors joking — I think — that the real way to cut down on unnecessary 911 calls was to change the number and make the new one unlisted. That would’ve been great thing to add, but it didn’t fit in anywhere.
Tuesday night I left out reams of interesting stuff on luring tourism to Lewiston, ways to improve the downtown and plenty of other stuff. I just didn’t have room for all of it. I’m pretty sure I hit the high points and covered most things people care about. But I hold on to the rest, and I’ll use it when I get the chance.